This week GAG had the honor of interviewing Caren Field an individual/couples counselor from Traverse City, Michigan who shares her wealth of relationship knowledge with GAG users in her free time.
Caren has more than 15 years of studying human behavior, coaching and counseling under her belt. In her private practice, The Path to Partnership, she deals with an array of issues that range from resolving simple relationship issues to helping couples effectively communicate with one another.
In her interview we discussed the goal of her private practice, why couples typically go to counseling, the "ONE" and relationship tips for you (the GAG Community!).
1. What is the goal your private practice, Path to Partnership?
Caren Field: My goal is for people to heal their relationships. When the relationships are healed, there are no more hurt feelings and no more resentments and people are free to love each other again. Whether a couple ends up together or not is irrelevant to that outcome.
2. Can your type of counseling be helpful for someone who has trouble being in relationships?
CF: Yes. People have difficulty being in relationships with others because they have difficulties in their relationship with themselves. That's where it all starts.
3. Are there any tips you can give to singles that are looking for the one?
CF: I think it's important to dispel the belief that there is only the ONE. Think about it this way, when you go to the pound to pick out a dog, which dog is the dog you fall in love with? The answer: which ever one you bring home.
4. When do couples typically come go to you (or other counselors) for help?
CF: I have heard the statistic thrown around that it's “6 years too late.” I don't know if that's true or not, but what I have seen is that people usually wait until the breaking point before they ask for help. Unfortunately, that's often too late. I like to think of counseling like car maintenance. People take their cars in for annual check ups, and get their oil changed every 6 months, why not treat your relationships, and yourself, the same way? Just check-in every once in a while to make sure you're on the right path.
5. Does couples counseling work for every couple?
CF: No. I could say the same for any counseling, both individual or couples: it only works when the client is willing to let go of hurting.
6. What do you think is the biggest issue couples have in most relationships?
CF: Poor communication. People don't listen so that makes it hard right off the bat. Added to that, men and women have different brains that cause us to communicate differently, and by not understanding this gender gap, we create more misunderstanding, disappointment, and hurt feelings. Then, we don't tell each other that we've been hurt in a way that works, so that causes more distance and less connection. It just keeps getting worse.
7. What's the key to creating a healthy long lasting relationship/marriage?
CF: Being willing to support your partner in getting their needs met, and being with a partner who is willing to support you in getting your needs met. To do that you have to keep the lines of communication wide open. If you can do that, you should be good.
8. What are some telltale signs of a toxic relationship? Are there ways to improve that relationship or is it a lost cause?
CF: If you spend more than about 5% of the time in what I call survival mode – that is with any tension or stress in your body or mind – about your partner or about your relationship, that's toxic. That stress chemical cocktail that you're stewing in is terrible for your mental and your physical health. Sadly, sometimes two people are just not a good match, and sometimes love just isn't enough. Everybody is better off being with someone who makes them feel safe, and who keeps them calm. This allows you to be your best self, instead of a stress ball.
9. Carrie Bradshaw said “Don't forget to fall in love with yourself first.” Do you agree? Do you think people need to fall in love with themselves in order for someone else to fall in love with them?
CF: As soon as someone's relationship with themselves is out, they will insist their partner needs counseling! That's how it goes when we don't have a healthy and loving relationship with ourselves. When we don't understand where we start and where we end, what us and what's not us, if anyone else gets into the mix, the lines end up getting blurry. Then, we start blaming, complaining, and taking things personally that aren't. That's a recipe for disaster.
10. Lastly, what is one tip (about dating, relationships, love or marriage) you want give the GAG community?
CF: Get your past cleaned up so it won't contaminate your present or your future. Heal your past wounds. We are like hoarders with our injuries. We stockpile our injuries, hurts, and offenses. We don't even notice how much trash we have collected, or how much it smells, because we are so used to living in the garbage. Cleaning them all up liberates you and makes love and happiness possible.
It's very fitting that Caren's interview is being published today, because today marks 10-months since she joined GAG as an expert. Thank you for all the great advice you’ve given the community thus far, Caren! We hope to have you around for many more months! :)